If you’re reading this blog, chances are you know all the tips and tricks associated with spending less. But everyone needs to spend money sooner or later. So when you know you’ll have to open up the wallet, spending smarter is your last defense against wasting your hard earned cash and maintaining a contribution to your high interest savings account . Smarter spending can save money and get you to feel better about your purchases at the same time. So how do we spend smarter? By reducing or eliminating ‘spending mistakes’.
We’ve all had the experience of buying something we regretted. It probably happens more often than you think. Whether it is clothing you don’t wear, something sitting in the fridge or freezer because no one wants it or some toy or gadget taking up space. How do we define spending mistakes?
I define spending mistakes as anything you buy which you do not get full value out of. Whether this means you only received limited value or no value at all. For those who are already doing what they can to spend frugally, spending smarter may be the last, best way left to save more. The following is my list of 11 tips to help you spend your money in a more effective and efficient way.
All Products / Services
Read Reviews and Compare First
This advice is usually adhered to for major purchases like cars and TV’s, but smart spender gather as much knowledge about the products or services they are about to buy, every time. Whether you check a place out on yelp first (great for knowing what to order), reading reviews online for fashion or checking consumer reports. Do your homework and you will spend smarter.
Know Their Refund and Return Policies
Always ask about refund and return policies and make sure you adhere to their guidelines. I get a real sinking feeling when I did something small or stupid to void a chance to refund or exchange something I only realize later was a mistake to buy in the first place.
Know Why And How You’ll Use The Item
Before you buy a new gadget or anything really, figure out how you will use the item in your day to day life. Also, make sure the item is an improvement over whatever you do now and is worth the cost. Better products come out every day, make sure the upgrade is worth the extra cash. If you’re buying toys for your kids, if they are old enough, ask them how/when they would use the toy. If a kid knows all that stands in their way of a new toy is a good reason why they should have it, they’ll be motivated to give a good answer. Plus, it is a great way to develop their logic and reasoning skills.
Follow Your Basic Shopping Knowledge
Searching for coupons and using a shopping list are no-brainers that no self proclaimed frugal spender can do without. However, no list is complete without mentioning these shopping strategy staples. But it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of these tips for being a savvy spender.
Food and Drinks
Don’t Buy It Until You’ve Tried It
Think that new 6-pack looks good? Only see the family size version of a new product? Want to switch brands? See if others you know have the product for you to try yourself. If that won’t work, try waiting until you can buy a cheaper or smaller quantity of a product before you invest in a more expensive purchase you may need to suffer through till you finish. Or worse, need to throw away and replace completely. Also, try these other ways to save on food costs
Clothing and Accessories
Wait Before You Buy
After you find an article of clothing, try waiting a week before you buy it. If you can go a week without needing an item you were on the verge of buying, chances are, you don’t really need it. This works best however, with bigger clothing purchases, like new shoes, dresses or jackets/coats. If after a week you still feel you NEED that item, you have already cut down drastically on the chance this is a mistake purchase.
Use A Shopping List
Just like groceries, you may be tempted to buy more than you need when you go clothes shopping, particularly during sales. By having a list of what you need, with notes about what colors or styles will fit best, you can cut down on mistake purchases by being able to zone in on what you’re really after. This can also help you save time too.
Know Your Wardrobe Before You Shop
While men seem to suffer with this more so than woman (no shock there), knowing what you have at home can prevent you from buying something you realize later you can’t match with anything.
Don’t Take The Tags Off
Don’t take off the tags until you are putting on that item and are sure you are going to walk out the door with it on. If you are the type to go shopping, come home and cut off all the tags and labels immediately, you could be making a mistake. First of all, leaving the tags on until you are about to wear it will remind you that this item is new and hasn’t been worn, who doesn’t like having that feeling? Second, if somehow the item gets pushed back in your closet and doesn’t get worn, having your tags intact can help you return it more easily or sell it for more money.
Don’t Rush To A Decision
Chances of a mistake purchase are at their highest if you’re not really into the item at first sight. Spend some time looking at the item, coming back to it later after browsing through more options. And definitely try it on. Nothing makes you feel worse than bringing something back you barely liked to find out it doesn’t fit anyway. However, sometimes you can use a second, or third, opinion, which brings us to the last tip.
Go With Other People
Go with someone who you trust to make purchasing decisions. A second, or even third opinion can help ensure you don’t buy something you won’t want to wear out when the time comes.
Pro tip – Designate certain people to help you buy certain attire. Have different “bar friends”, “golf friends”, “dinner and movie friends” and “business friends”? While your exact groups may vary, some of us tend to do certain things with certain people. Not only will going shopping with them help eliminate mistakes, but it can also lead to a nice day with a friend and strengthen your bond.
We want to know what your money saving tips while shopping are and what you think of this list in the comments below. And if you have shopping buddies or feel others can benefit from the advice here, do not forget to share it on Facebook or Tweet about it. Sharing is caring 🙂